Sun Safety for Survivors: 6 Ways to Keep the Sun Fun This Summer
Happy Summer Solstice!
It’s officially summertime and that means beach and pool time! All that fun in the sun could lead to some other stuff, like tan lines or even sun burns. Sun exposure is a very real issue - it is the primary cause of skin cancer.
While everyone is at risk for skin cancer, unfortunately, breast and other cancer patients and survivors face an even higher risk. There are a couple reasons behind this. One is a genetic predisposition to cancer. For example, individuals with the abnormalities of the BRCA 2 gene are at twice the risk for developing melanoma than those without. The other reason being that chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments make you a lot more sun sensitive.
For those undergoing treatment, there are some extra precautions. Take special care of areas that are receiving radiation. These areas should be kept covered by clothing or sunscreen. It is possible that sunscreen could irritate the skin, so check with a medical professional before applying sunscreen to radiated areas.
It is advised to limit sun exposure during and for at least a month after chemotherapy. Don’t let this discourage you! Limiting sun exposure does not mean no outdoor activity. The preventative tips for patients and survivors are basically the same as for everyone else - you should just be stricter about it (as everyone should, really).
It’s important to cover-up when in the sun for long periods of time. Who doesn’t love a floppy hat or super cute wrap to wear over your bathing suit? You can get UV protective clothing like the Gritty Titty Bra (which you can swim in, too!) by Graced by Grit. Maybe get yourself an umbrella to sit under when you’re on the sand.
Wear a broad spectrum, EWG approved, sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher like this Sun Stick from our friends at Bare Bones Body. One application at the start of your day is not enough. Re-apply vigorously every two hours and after swimming. Check out our sunscreen guide on Non Toxic Revolution to check your ingredients!
When to Go Out
One of the best things about summer days is how long they are. The sun’s rays are the strongest during the afternoon, so it may be wise to schedule your sunny activities for the morning or evening, like a nice AM hike or a dinner barbecue.
Drink lots of Water
Staying hydrated is super important in hot weather and when spending time in the sun. Electrolyte heavy fluids like coconut water also help protect your skin and organs!
Seriously! No tanning! Stay far away from tanning beds. There is no “safe” amount of indoor tanning! And yes, soaking up rays by the ocean or pool feels great, but that can lead to burns and other over-exposure related issues.
Check Yourself (Skin Edition)!
Give your entire body a looksy, ideally once a month, to look for any skin changes or abnormalities. The Skin Cancer Foundation gives a great breakdown of the best way to do this. Why not do that with your monthly Keep A Breast check yourself reminder?
Bree Flory is a vegan, coffee and beer loving, intersectional feminist who is particularly invested in health. She has a degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from CSULB, where she spent her time turning her passions into academic activism. When she’s not busy spreading awareness on living a non toxic lifestyle, she is most likely taking a long bath, cooking extravagant vegan food, or crying about dogs.